Still Listening …

… to my bride. She pointed out that I failed to share vital information about grandchildren other than The Littles in my last post. I was actually aware of that omission at the time but was suffering from a severe case of something yet to be determined. As soon as I come up with a viable cause, I’ll certainly let you know. Right away.

Lydia and Cedric were the ones missing from my previous post. I guess I was too focused on The Littles. Lydia and Cedric are, after all, full grown adults now. Still, they are our children’s children and we love them, too.

It was Friday morning when Lydia drove into Big Eddy toting surprises in the form of Cedric and Ceiarra. Everyone knew that Cedric’s ship, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), was in port at Bremerton, WA but didn’t expect him to be fetched for a visit this soon. Lydia drove up Thursday afternoon when she got off work and drove him back to St. Helens. After resting for the night they made the arduous 20 miles trip to Big Eddy to hang out with everyone. It was especially meaningful for Jennifer who commented the first day that this was the first Family Camp ever when they didn’t have kids with them. Then some kids showed up. It was great. Including Ceiarra was great, too.

Sadly, I was pretty lax about getting photos compared to what I used to do. Guess the finger I use to snap photos was worn out. Anyway, it was good to have Cedric and Ceiarra show up. The Littles were especially happy about it.

Cheers

I’m Listening

I’m listening to my lovely wife, Diane. She told me a couple days ago that I haven’t posted anything during the month of July. I checked and, by golly, she’s absolutely correct. I haven’t. I can only attribute this lack of posting to old age or, perhaps I’ve simply used up most of the words available to me in a given period of time. I’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’. Diane has a cousin who, when she’s at a loss for words, says “…I must have used up all my nouns.”

Considering the amount of time that’s passed I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly remember things in proper sequence, if I can remember things at all, so I’m just going to ramble and see what happens. That way I can be just as surprised as you when something profound sneaks out.

Let’s see … on July 15th Jerrie Anne Diane Cate celebrated her 8th birthday which means the school district has no choice but to allow her to attend 3rd grade when school resumes in September. She’s pretty stoked about that. Matter of fact, she actually cried when the school year ended because she likes school that much. Her older sisters love school, too, so it’s apparently a genetic ‘thing’ that comes from their mother’s side of the family. I guess it could be from Diane, too, but it’s surely not from me. I was perfectly OK when summer showed up and I was still wearing little boy clothing.

Shortly after Jerrie’s birthday we fired up the bus and returned to Paradise Cove for a few days of R&R, by ourselves. You may recall we took The Littles there in June for about a week. We had big plans to spend a lot of time in the hot tub but I don’t remember doing that even one time. Instead we spent our time either sitting on or walking along one beach or another, watching the waves. The high light of the sitting part was when we parked ourselves on a tall dune above the remains of the Peter Iredale which has been a fixture on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park my entire life. We were there to watch the sunset and saw some whales playing along the shore spouting a few times, showing us their tails, then disappearing. It was pretty special which is good because the sun went behind some clouds and there was no proper sunset. It just got dark and chilly. Be we had whales!

We returned from that trip on Monday and had a few days days to recover, we thought, until Diane discovered that we had reservations at Big Eddy County Park near Vernonia on Wednesday. This was another trip with The Littles because it’s a yearly Family Camp for Jennie’s and Daniel’s church. We’re always invited and we almost always go because it’s great fun. The Littles went last year for the first time and loved it. They got to spend days, literally, in the Nehalem River, and they made lots of new friends. The great thing about this is that the church rents the entire park so the kids can be free to go wherever they want with no fear of something bad happening. They just had to check in with their home camp on a regular basis so we knew where they were and they could not venture into the river without adult supervision. All we adults had to do was sit around our campfires talking and eating snacks. Once in a while kids would show up and we’d have a meal. The big deal with food culminated in a dessert social where I cut Jerrie a piece of very rich chocolate cake that was far too large. She savored every morsel but wound up giving it all back, plus, later that evening. I suspect it tasted much better the first time it passed her lips. She recovered nicely the next day and was able to spend lots of time with her friend Lilly.

The bigger Littles (Gilligan & Baylee) put dozens of miles on bikes, riding all over the park with their friends. Most of the bike riders were careful but we had to be wary of the smaller ones with training wheels. They weren’t overly concerned about who was in front of them as they pedaled around, talking to whoever was riding next to them. Diane was almost run over many times because she either didn’t hear the rattle of those training wheels or she thought they actually knew about the rules when encountering old people. Like, don’t run into them. They tend to tip over and break things. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I exercised our small little BBQ for one meal by cooking hamburger and chicken patties. I don’t use it often, and only clean it when I do figuring that whatever bad things may have grown on it since the last use would surely be consumed during the warm-up phase. It’s worked so far and has provided us with some tasty hotdogs with a hint of steak and old hamburgers. They are a culinary treat. Now that we’re home I’m reminded that I need to remove the 4 chicken patties I left on the BBQ when I put it back in the RV. I have no valid reason for doing that. It just seemed to be OK at the time. I can already hear Diane calling my name, in large capital letters — “JEROLD BRADLEY CATE” — when she reads this.

In case you’re wondering about the danger of little kids playing in the Nehalem River, fear not. It’s not a big river. It’s more like a large creek. And there are always lots of people around lounging on a variety of different kinds of floating devices. It’s pretty safe.

That’s about it for this time. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Let me tell you a story …

It’s a simple one and won’t take a lot of time unless I happen to recall more details as I progress. Sometimes that happens. I don’t know why, it just does.

In a nutshell, yesterday we went camping. Technically we’re camping right this very minute. Well, some of us are. Others are off gallivanting around Tillamook, eating ice cream, and whatnot, while Ziva and I stayed behind to guard the camp. Ok, it’s not really a camp. It’s an RV, and it has TV, but it will always be considered camping to us. As I type, I’m sitting in my outside chair that we specifically bought for camping, so, we’re camping.

The weather is awesome. A little overcast, but not chilly and there are peeks of blue sky all around so all this cloud cover is likely to burn off before the day gets much older. I don’t really care because if things change for the worse, Ziva and I will just go inside and take a nap.

Getting everything ready to go yesterday didn’t seem to be much of a problem. Everything we owned was loaded into the RV along with three fairly small children – Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. And Ziva, our elderly dog.

While loading everything, Onie, Jeff & Heather’s dog, discovered that the cat was roaming around the RV and gave chase. It was furious for a short time, but Onie finally responded to everyone’s plea to cease and desist the chase. Breezie, the cat, ran under the RV and appeared to be safe so everyone took a deep breath and went about their assigned chores. It was pretty exciting for a short time.

Once loaded, Diane headed down to her Mom’s, Jean’s, house in the tow car for a chat while I and the children went to the local Chevron station to load up on some cheap diesel. We had to run the pump twice because the first time we got $1 off each gallon, thanks to Safeway points, so that first 25 gallons only cost $1.86 a gallon. The next 11 gallons were full price. They used to allow 35 gallons but I think they changed the rules yesterday morning because they knew I was going to pay them a visit. Figures.

Once we were properly topped off, I strapped myself into the pilot’s chair and prepared to leave the station. Right at that exact moment, I see Breezie walking away from the RV and behind another vehicle at the pump. I was able to get outside quick enough to snatch her and get her safely inside the rig. It’s simply a miracle that I was looking in the spot she chose to escape, or she would have been lost forever. The station is about a mile from home, on busy Highway 30, a place she’s never been.

So, when we showed up at Great Grandma’s house, everyone was surprised to see that Breezie was with us. It was pretty amazing. Thankfully, Jeff came down to help me connect the tow car for the trip and was able to drive her back home. He said she crawled into his lap for that short trip and was really happy to be home. It was pretty amazing.

Hooking up the tow car isn’t really a big deal if you know all the rules. Unlike the last trip, we remembered to install the safety cables. I removed the designated fuse before Diane left home so that was already done. The fuse powers up things that will drain the battery because the key needs to remain in the ACC position. That’s the part Jeff didn’t know about so he turned the key all the way off, locking the steering wheel. Consequently, when we turned corners everyone was asking, “What’s that noise?” I could see in the rearview that the front wheels weren’t tracking so the noise was me scraping a bunch of miles off the front tires with every turn.

We hadn’t gone far so I pulled off the highway and I fixed that little error. Then, after turning the next corner, the car began wobbling back and forth for some reason which required another stop for investigation. Jeff came back and helped with that while we were parked in front of Daniel and Jennifer’s house on Matzen Street. They live about a mile from us, so we were setting a record for not getting out of town in a reasonable amount of time. The goal was to be gone around noon-ish. At this time we’re approaching 2 pm, way beyond the limits we normally observe. Had it been only 1 pm it would have been OK.

The only thing I could figure that was wrong with the connect between car and RV was that the tow bar didn’t latch properly, even though it appear to be OK. So, I disconnect the tow bar from the RV and ensured that the latches worked, then released both sides while Jeff maneuvered the car so I could set the hitch on the ball and lock it in place. Then I had him put the car in reverse and give it a bunch of gas to yank the hitch hard enough to make it latch on both sides. Actually, I had him slowly back up to apply enough tension to make them latch. Then I showed him the need for leaving the ignition on, so the steering wheel worked.

There were some other tests in there, one of which involved Jeff riding in the tow car while I towed it around the block a couple of times. He said it was pretty freaky doing that.

The last fix resolved the wobble problem and we hit the road for real. The destination was Paradise Cove in Wheeler, Oregon on Nehalem Bay. During that trip I heard a lot of suggestions that maybe I should slow down a little on the corners because the road was narrow. It really wasn’t, and I was really going the speed limit (most of the time), but I slowed down anyway. It was, after all, 4 to 1 against me as to who was actually correct. Didn’t matter that I was in charge of the steering wheel.

Women …

We arrived safely, in spite of my errant driving tactics, and found a likely spot with the required southern exposure needed for the satellite receiver. Gotta have TV or it’s just a wasted trip, you know. Once the car was relieved of the tow bar everyone, including Ziva, crammed themselves into the available seats and Diane drove us to Rockaway Beach so the Littles could run and jump in the ocean.

It didn’t matter that the sun was going down soon and everyone but them were wearing hoodies, they ran to the beach and immediately shed their candles and shorts, dropping them in the sand, then headed for the beach. It didn’t matter that the tide was out and the surf line was most of 1/4 mile away.

Diane said “I should have brought a bag,” which is code for, “please go back to the car and get a bag while I watch the girls.” It’s good that I know code. I got the back and loaded the clothes up then followed along. It was a long walk. Then, about the time I got there, it was determined that Ziva needed to go away from people to maybe relieve herself. She’s a little shy. So I walked her back to the rocks that protect the parking lot 1/4 mile away. She had a wonderful time sniffing pretty much everything in sight but didn’t seem to have any urgent needs to squat and pee. So, we walked back to the family. In all I walked most of a mile to do this. Now, that’s not a complaint, just a simple statement of fact. Really. That’s all.

Gilligan said we would never see her shiver and honored that claim. She said she was able to do that because the water was so cold it immediately froze her feet to the point where the water actually felt kinda warm. The other two agreed. I recall being that age … really, I do … and also had the ability to play in the freezing ocean just like that so I wasn’t surprised.

They romped for about an hour until we convinced them we should probably head back “home” and maybe eat something for dinner. Some of us were hungry.

We feasted on chicken noodle soup, the perfect meal for really cold people. Then we watched So You Think You Can Dance and went to bed. I got to sleep about 3 hours before a cramp in my right leg decided to get me up for a while. Everyone else woke up slowly, we had some breakfast, then Diane took the Littles to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, leaving me home to nap, read, walk, or whatever I wanted to do. It was OK with me. I stayed and kept Ziva company.

I got hungry a little while ago because they’ve been gone for a while and I know they’re eating lunch someplace. I probably should have had a PB&J sandwich but ate 5 pieces of licorice Jennie gave me for Father’s Day instead. I also had a couple handfuls of cashews to balance it off. Then Ziva and I went for a walk. I took a bottle of water and drank it on the way.

On the way back to the RV a car was leaving and stopped by me to talk. The gentleman began the conversation lamenting about all the things he volunteers for, the last of which is for the AcroCats. He’s apparently minding a 45 foot Prevost RV that he said is full of cages with trained cats that he looks after in this volunteer evolution. One got away and wouldn’t respond to the whistle they are trained to respond to at feeding time. He was a bit flustered and suggested that if anyone was in the mood to volunteer, he gladly let them have at it. I let him know I’d tell the cat lady I married about this opportunity. Here’s what he was guarding …

Then he left to go take a shower.

We spent time in the Wheeler pool and I was able to recreate a visit we had many years ago with the Walters’ Clan.

The original photo was of Jennie, Logan, Cedric, and Lydia doing the same jump. Fun stuff.

The remainder of our stay was just very relaxing interspersed with walks and lots of pool time. We went to the beach a few times, too, but there’s no need to bore you with photos of all that. I’ll just add a few more.

Weird Clouds

Tired Dog

Drying for the next trip

Breakfast

The trip home was uneventful except for two occasions where the tow car started wobbling very hard. The first time was while going down a hill into the Seaside area. The second time was while transiting the two very sharp turns when leaving Astoria. I was able to stop and get the tow bar latched both times but there’s obviously something wrong with that lash up.

Not far from home we encountered an accident that was in the process of being cleared to allow traffic to move on. It was an amusing spectacle watching the tow truck driver get his hitch thingy under the black pickup a few inches at a time. He’d move a bit, get out and go look under the truck, get back into the tow truck, move a few more inches, etc. until he finally had it where he wanted. Then he raised the trucks rear wheels and pulled it our of the way. It was amusing, also, to watch the policeman walking around with his vest on upside down. Kinda funny.

Diane brought a bottle of wine on the trip but didn’t have anything appropriate to pour it in until she went to Goodwill and found these crystal glasses.

The glasses and the case cost a whopping $4.00. What a deal.

That’s it for this trip.

Banquet, Marsha, and Memphis

Saturday was a very busy day, for some people. For us it was one of another, lazy late exit from our respective beds, a late breakfast (or early lunch) then some sitting around doing a lot of nothing. We had to rest up for the banquet which was to start at 6:00 in the evening. Prior to that the crew members in attendance had a business meeting for the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Our treasurer, Rick, gave a comprehensive accounting of our financial situation and made it clear how much it costs to keep our organization functioning. After that we went through the agenda, ultimately agreeing on where we go next year. Lots of options were suggested, and promoted, but we finally agreed on Savannah, Georgia. Another new city for us to discover.

At 5 pm we started getting ready for the big event of the reunion by finding the clothes we brought for the occasion and laying them out hoping some of the wrinkles would disappear. That really wasn’t an issue for me because once I put them on they just disappeared thanks to all the food I’ve been eating. Yessir I just filled up all the vacant space and stretched those wrinkles away. It wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t wrinkled. It worked so well that Diane asked me to put her clothing on for a little bit and kinda iron them out, too. Doing that stirred up some latent emotions from my youth when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a boy or girl. Right then the bra started to chafe reminding me that I’d made the correct choice all those years ago. Diane agreed and thanked me for pressing her clothes. Actually, her’s got stretched a little further than mine and, consequently, looked much better after i removed them. This entire exercise in removing wrinkles showed us that we no longer needed to ensure that rooms we get while traveling have irons in the room. Now I just need to ensure I don’t start losing weight thereby losing this new-found skill I’ve acquired. If necessary, I can hire out my body to fellow travelers so they, too, can avoid the need for an iron. Just have to find out what to charge, or if to charge. I might like doing it just for fun.

The banquet went well and we wound up with 46 ex-Cleveland crew members in attendance, in addition to significant others who attended. It was a packed room. The food was good and the raffle & auction items were plentiful. I have no idea how much money was spent in total, but one of our old Chiefs spent over $1000 on things his wife wanted. I believe that was a new record for one bidder. It went a long way toward ensuring the organization wouldn’t be having any financial woes in the near future. Rick reported that we were, once again, solvent.

After the banquet was done everyone went to the atrium and pool area which is surrounded by rooms for photos. We were making a lot of noise after the suggested quiet hour, but none of the other guests complained. So, we just continued to make lots of noise which made it very difficult for organizers to organize groups for photos, especially the guys. 

Finally, there was a lull in the noise and we got the guys to kind of line up for the photo.
And here are the ladies …

The festivities were finally terminated about 10:30 pm much to the glee no doubt of everyone who had an interior room, and we all headed for our respective rooms. I think.

The five Radiomen in attendance: Spence, Curt, Dan, Gene, and Me

During our good nights and farewells I volunteered Diane to deliverer our friend Marsha to the airport at 0530 the next morning. Diane wasn’t happy, initially, but I won her over. Then she expanded the day by declaring that “since we’re getting up so early, we may as well go to Memphis and visit Graceland.” I couldn’t really object because, first, she is the only declared driver of our rental and, second, well, because she wanted to go to Memphis. Even though it was pouring rain … 

Nashville to Graceland isn’t a trip around the corner. It’s about 220 miles and a 3 hr drive according to my map. In reality, it’s 220, yes, but 4.5 hours. The extended time is because there was a portion of the freeway closed but there were no detour signs pointing to an alternate route. The local folks knew about them but neither I nor our GPS were aware of how to proceed. So, I studied the map as we went and found a way around it. The long way around it, but we eventually made it. We stopped at a Waffle House about halfway to get breakfast and our first coffee of the day. Here’s proof …

Somewhere along the line we stopped at a rest area. They have names just like other states …

The first thing everyone who enters Graceland is exposed to is the gift shop. That’s where you can buy sunglasses for any occasion, just like Elvis wore …

I won’t bore you with the interior of Graceland because you’ve probably seen it before. I will say, however, that both Diane and I were pleasantly surprised to discover how un-pretentious the home was. It was very nice and we enjoyed it. It gave us a different look at how to view Elvis. He seemed to be a very nice guy who died far too young.

There was a picture in one of the out buildings that totally caught me by surprise and may also cause a second look by my brothers … 

The left photo in the middle looks disturbingly like my first grade picture. The means (to me) that at one point in time I looked like Elvis. We just didn’t turn out the same in the same, did we?

After touring the mansion we exited the venue, which is far bigger than just the mansion, and headed home. We had a 3-4 hour trip ahead of us and we were tired already. Diane drove both directions and amazed me at how much stamina she had. I had a horrible time staying awake to make sure she stayed awake. Could be we died somewhere along I-40 and I’m writing this to you from an alternate universe in the Matrix. Seems real, though.

We made it home in time to get to bed about 8:15 pm after eating a less than stellar hamburger from the Opry Backstage Grill here in the hotel. We didn’t wake up for 12 hours and didn’t get out of bed until 10-11. We’re not as tired as we were when we went to bed but it took a long time to get some energy back. Plus, it just felt good to lay around doing nothing.

Finally, the need for food took precedent over the need for rest so we left in search of something to eat. In the car I searched on line for a decent place to go and we wound up at a really nice place just up the street. The Santa Fe Steakhouse where the food is excellent.

When we walked into the place an were being led to our booth, about 25 people sitting at tables in the middle of the room got up and left. Diane said she noticed that the crew was composed of sheriffs and firefighters. When the waitress showed up I asked if they needed to go out and get another steer before they could feed anyone else. She said no so I ordered steak fajitas. Diane ordered their beef enchiladas. Both of us were overjoyed with our choices. Not only was the food excellent, the wait staff was more than wonderful. 

Now I must end this and prepare for our last night here in Nashville. Tomorrow we fly home from rainy Tennessee to bright and sunny Oregon.

Camping at Big Eddy

Last Thursday we took “The Littles” Camping at Big Eddy Park on the Nehalem River near Vernonia, Oregon. It’s a small place but full of fun on hot days. Even I found the water to be pleasant in the 100 degree temps. “The Littles”, by the way, are our Grand Daughters Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie. I’m using that now because it’s easier to type.

We attended this outing thanks to Jennifer’s & Daniel’s willingness to let us join them for their annual Church Campout at the park, even though we don’t attend their church. Guess Jennifer figured I wouldn’t cause too much of a commotion this time and the who attend the last time we went had plenty of time to forget past offenses. I don’t think there were any, but you just never know what might trip someone’s trigger.

This was the first time The Littles went camping with us so it was and exciting time for them. Since the church pretty much rents the entire park for the weekend the kids (lots of them) were free to roam all day and into the night. The big attraction was the big eddy in the Nehalem River for which the park is named.

With inner tubes of various sizes, and life jackets, the kids assaulted the river and had a spectacular time just floating around, visiting, making new friends, and for some, catching crawdads.

In line, front to rear, are Jerrie, Baylee, and Gilligan under Daniel’s watchful eye.

 

Living large in the deep water, about 20′ deep, middle of the eddy.

 

Even the dogs get to play. This is Ziva.

 

There was some down time allowed for river rock art.

 

Jerrie in a brief moment of inactivity.

 

Jennie minding the tubes. This is about as wet as she got.

 

Gilligan coming in for a pit stop.

 

Gilligan giving her Mosh Pit greeting.

 

Mocha just floated around all over the place, lurking kinda like an alligator. She loves the water because it sets her free of her aching joints.

 

Open fires are not currently allowed in any Oregon camp grounds unless they had a way to turn them off. So, before leaving civilization we made a trip to Lowe’s and got a propane fire pit that fit that category.

 

It works quite nicely, throwing a rosy glow on everyone who sits around it.

 

It was even used to produce vast quantities of s’mores for those who like that kind of thing. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of s’mores. I think that makes me kind of unpatriotic, or something, and I’m sorry if it does. But, I still don’t care for them. The kids love them, however.

 

Lots of time people showed up from other families to join in with Jeran, Lydia, Joey, Jamie, Sofie, and Ceiarra. I caught this one sitting still so took her photo. Also, got a fairly good shot of Daniels T-shirt, Save the Chubby Unicorns.

 

Most of the girls are wearing their hair longer, young and old, so braiding it was a full-time job. Jennie loves doing it and fixed up all comers. She’s a pro braider. So, I guess that means she’s Pro Braider Jennie, or PB&J for my acronym book.

 

Jennie and Jerrie posing after Jen gave Jer piggies, my personal favorite hairdo.

 

Diane contemplating something while relaxing.

 

Jennie relaxing.

 

Older kids gathered for lunch.

Sunday morning we attended an outdoor church service then everyone packed up to leave. For me, getting ready to go involved driving our motor home around the narrow, wiggly, tree-lined roads to get in a spot where I could reattach the tow dolly and mount the car on it. I’d done it once to drop the dolly and didn’t have a problem. This time, however, I cut one corner a little close and brushed an old, rotten stump. It left a mess on the driver’s side near the rear wheel that I was sure would signal the end of the world.  But it didn’t. Neither I, nor anyone else with a camera, thought to capture the moment and the damage, so there’s no proof that what I’m relating really happened. Therefore, you can just chalk this up to a big lie if you wish. I really did swipe the stump, though, and the visible damage appeared to be permanent.

Once we got home I got out the polishing compound and rubbed 98% of it away. I was amazed. And happy. Now I won’t be ashamed to take it out again next week for a trip to Nehalem Bay State Park. This is the bay where the Nehalem River joins the Pacific Ocean.

How odd is that?

 

 

A Marathon, a Trip, and Eating Out

Hi. In case you’re wondering, it appears that I’m going to survive the grueling sciatica affliction to which I was subjected due to the incredibly hard seats in the EOU gym during Maryssa’s graduation. That was on June 16th – FLASH! I need to share, right here, that June 16th is absolutely correct and I just pulled that date out of thin air BEFORE I checked it. I think I’m going to give myself a little star. Yessir! I’m getting a star!

Regarding my ongoing battle with sciatica pain, I must report that over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had numerous occasions where I was almost pain-free. Every time that happened I figured it would be OK to do some work outside which undid all the good up til then. I should have listened to Diane. She’s was always saying, “stay on the couch or go take a nap”. Really, she told me that but I had a hard time with it because I couldn’t help thinking about all the outside chores that weren’t getting done while I snoozed away. I finally acquiesced to her demands and have since become very comfortable with napping pretty much any time of the day, guilt free.

Another setback was caused by my unauthorized participation in a marathon on the 4th of July in downtown St. Helens. Jennifer, our daughter, and Lydia, her daughter, were participating and asked Diane to join them on this trek around town. Much to my surprise, she agreed. Jennifer said she already bought the costumes for the dogs and had tutus for her, Lydia, and Diane. Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu.

The marathon had a name … The Underachiever .4K Marathon. Yes, that’s a .4K. Jennifer was in charge of Bronson while Diane and Lydia shared turns with Ziva which left me to bring up the rear, hobbling as fast as I could. When it was all said and done, huffing around every corner looking for the finish line, I finally found it after only 2 hrs 27 mins. Diane and the kids, being much younger and less prone to take small breaks along the way, finished in about 30 minutes.

This is the way our July 4th began …

Then we got all dressed up for the marathon … 

Marathon starting line – runners went first.

Diane and Jennifer bringing up the rear … I don’t know where Jeran was at this point, but he was there.

Here’s Jeran with Lydia and Bronson. Bronson looks absolutely ecstatic about all the commotion, doesn’t he? There was some doubt about Bronson’s willingness to walk all that way, especially while wearing that hat, but he did well. Another danger was the possibility of encounter someone on a skate board. Given the opportunity, he will chase down the rider and take the board away from him. Skaters have learned to not ride past the Walters house.

Ziva was interested in all the other dogs, of course …

This was Diane saying, “Don’t do it!”

Getting untangled …

First stop, the Krispy Creme Lady …

Next stop was the Running Dog Brewery for a beer, or a fantastic locally made root beer. Truly the best root beer I’ve ever tasted. 

Waiting in line for treats.

Still waiting in line …

… and, still waiting in line …

The race finished with a fashion show where Ziva won 2nd place. Judging was based on audience applause and Ziva’s ovation was the loudest. The judge, however, was obviously biased and gave it to a young girl and her dog who were wearing matching tutu’s. I knew I should have had a tutu!

The next day Diane thought it would be fun to have lunch on the Roof overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a new eating facility that, thankfully, has an elevator that drops visitors off at the bar. It was a perfect day and the food was great. They serve all manner of alcohol as well as sandwiches on hogie rolls. Good food, but they didn’t have ham. I wanted ham. Instead, I ate their version of a reuben which wasn’t bad. The view was awesome.

Straight out from the venue is Sand Island where the cities fireworks are ignited. No doubt it was loud and colorful the previous evening from this location. The far beach is the Washington side of the Columbia River.

Diane wanted to capture the flag in front of the old court house.

Last Sunday Diane and I took a trip to Bremerton, WA to deliver Cedric back to his ship, the USS Nimitz, America’s oldest super carrier. We didn’t leave until 2000 so it was a quiet and uneventful trip. We were treated to this sunset as we made our way north which made the trip worth it all by itself.

Instead of turning around and coming right back home, we booked a room at the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites on the Naval Base where we lounged until almost 1100 the next morning. Then we drove home.

After arriving home I had a short nap then picked up Jennifer and Lydia for another artistic adventure at a local school. It was fun as are all events that I get to share with my girls. My painting is the one on right. I think I could have done a better job if it hadn’t been for the two young girls at the table in front of us who were having way too much fun. They distracted me.

It was a good day.

On Tuesday I took my bad back to the golf course to ride around in a cart with Doug and Junior. Every once in a while I’d get out and smack a golf ball just as hard as I could, as did D and J. They were more serious about form and did better than me, but it turns out when I get enough rest and can hit a golf ball a long way. I can putt pretty good, too. It’s everything between the drive and the putting that gives me problems. Still, it’s fun to visit with the guys.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a visit with my VA primary care doctor, Dr. Gilbert. She’s been taking good care of me for a few years and this was just a followup so we didn’t have time to talk about everything new that’s cropped up since our last visit. So, I have another appointment next month to address my back. I’m getting my MRI, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. Yessir, stuff me in that tube, the one that tightens around you and squeezes the life out of you. Thankfully, they give me Valium so I can make it through without screaming too much.

After the doctor visit, we went to the Black Bear Diner on TV Highway for lunch. Rick and Jody joined us. Diane had a croissant tuna sandwich, and I had a California Burger.

Rick and Jody thought it was pretty funny and didn’t think I could actually compress it enough to get it in my mouth, but I fooled them. It was an excellent hamburger.

R&J had already eaten so they each just wanted a piece of pie. When it was delivered to the table it was evident karma was being observed because I got the last laugh. Turns out a piece of pie at the Black Bear Diner is a little bigger than a slice.

It was a good ending to a good day.

Sciatica Deluxe, Beavers, Anniversarys

Since my last post I’ve been recovering from the consequences of sitting on a hard bleacher seat for 4 hours. My little sit-down bones rebelled and have been complaining since that day causing my sciatica to run rampant making life pretty miserable for both me and Diane.

Yeah, I know. No one really wants to listen to a complainer so I’ll just put those personal items aside and talk about other stuff. Doing that, however, doesn’t make my back feel any younger.

Let’s talk about the NCAA College World Series. Everyone watched at least some of those games, right? I mean, like you were glued to your TV screens, hanging on every pitch to see what was going to happen. Well, I can’t say that Diane and I did that, not at first, but we got totally engaged when the field was whittled down to the last eight teams, one of which was the Oregon State Beavers. That caught our interest.

When Oregon lost their first game to North Carolina the excitement waned a little, I admit, but we watched anyway. Sticking with them provided us with a great deal of entertainment as the Oregon Beavers clawed they way through the field, one elimination game at a time. Each time we thought it was all over for the Beavs they rallied late and came out on top. That included the final elimination game against Arkansas which was game 2 of the Championship round. Arkansas was unbeaten to that point and Oregon was down to its last strike, bottom of the 9th inning with 2 out and the score was 3-2 Arkansas, and the tying run was on third. It looked bleak for our Beavers. The pitcher took the mound and the batter line up for that final strike. It was a mighty swing resulting it a pop up down the 1st base line. Two Razorbacks rushed to the projected landing zone and raised their mitts, waiting to see who had the best chance to catch it. Right then, a third Razorback rushed between them with his glove in the air as if he had it in the bag. About the time those three formed an equilateral triangle the ball plummeted into the ground right about ground zero. It was stunning for the Beavers, devastating for the Razorback. Had one of them caught that ball it would have been game over and the Razorbacks would have been the national NCAA champions. Instead, the batter and pitcher faced each other one more time. The batter made a solid connection and drove in the tying run with a solid single. That brought Trevor Larnach, Oregon’s team leading home run hitter who didn’t disappoint. He drove the ball over the right field fence into the Beavers bullpen. Now it’s 5-3 Oregon and they wouldn’t lose the lead, taking out the three batters they faced in the top of the 10th. Great game. Check the details here if you want to read it with photos.

As a rule, I don’t watch baseball because I find it to be a fairly boring thing to do. It’s like watching a horse race while standing next to the finish line. Nothing really happens until the last straightaway sprint when jockeys jockey for position and the thundering hoof beats impact your entire body, causing your adrenaline to spike, driving your heart rate sky-high. Then, BOOM!, it’s over, and quiet quickly descends on the crowd amid a mixture of cheering and boohoos.

Now we have to wait until next season to see how they do. Odds are in the Beavers’ favor for finishing high in the standings because many of their ace players are returning, including the freshman pitcher, Kevin Abel, who threw a complete game shutout for the final game. Also coming back is the catcher, Andy Rutschman, who set an NCAA championship series record with 17 hits, I think. Maybe 18. He did well.

OK, enough about sports. Now I’ll just make stuff up and see if something moves into the realm of reality.

Even though I could hardly walk due to my annoying sciatica, I can still golf. I don’t get it. All that twisting, turning, and swinging doesn’t aggravate the existing pain. And, I think because the pain slows me down a little, I actually golf better. Funny thing. My last outing with the boys was yesterday and we finished our allotted 9 holes with a 54. Yes, we tied, something we’ve never done before. Now, before you bring up the fact that 54 for a round of 9 isn’t all that great, let me point out that we don’t take golfing all that serious. We’re out there for fun, fresh air, and the lunch that follows the 9th hole. When we’re done and packing up our gear we talk about where we should eat so that’s actually part of the game for us. Generally, we wind up at Burgerville but lately the New Happy Garden restaurant, across from Walmart, next to the Verizon store, has caught our interest.

Today is Tuesday, July 3rd, in case you were wondering. I was, so looked it up. This morning Diane made me get up really early then drove me to the VA Clinic in Hillsboro to donate blood and urine to be analyzed prior to my pending July 11th appointment with Dr. Gilbert. She’s my primary care doctor. Hopefully my sciatica will be all healed up by then because I’m fearful her solution might include some guy with a sharp knife. I’d like to avoid that. I think I’ll beat it because Diane has been very strict with me, making me rest and relax, to let it heal. I thank God for her every day.

On June 23rd, Jennifer’s brother Jeff, and his lovely wife Heather, celebrated their 11th anniversary then on July 1st Jeff’s sister Jennifer, and her lovely husband Daniel, celebrated their 23rd anniversary. Factor in the 50th anniversary that Diane and I recently celebrated, we have a combined total of 84 years of married life. That’s quite significant. We pray there will be many more of those years.

My mind just ran dry so guess I’ll quit for now. I hope everyone is in good health, happy, and that you will all be careful when playing with fireworks tomorrow. Remember – it’s light the match, light the firecracker, throw the firecracker. Some folks seems to get confused in the heat of the moment and throw the match and keep the firecracker. You can always tell past offenders. They’re the ones who can still play Chopsticks on the piano because it only takes 2 fingers.